If the 2014 Sprint Cup season is going off its rocker, this is the week.
Watkins Glen is the second road course race of the year. Based on past performance, there’s a real chance Chase contenders will have to readjust their strategy for the final races leading into the Chase. Here’s why:
The Top Contenders:
Marcos Ambrose has zero chance of making the Chase on points alone. He does has two wins in six career starts at Watkins Glen. Only once has Amrbose finished worse than fifth. No wonder Ambrose is 5/1 and leading the pack. Sunday is his best and final chance to secure a Chase birth.
Then there’s Tony Stewart. In spite of a dreadful 2014, Stewart has five career wins at the Glen. He also has the third best average finish among active drivers. At 12/1, Stewart will be an interesting name to watch Sunday.
The Top Chase Contenders:
Brad Keselowski has never won at Watkins Glen, but he has the best average finish among active drivers here. At 7/1, he is the favorite among anyone in the Chase. Jeff Gordon has four career wins at the Glen and is 10/1. Then there’s Carl Edwards who has the fifth best finish among active drivers here. Edwards is 25/1 with Jamie McMurray, who doesn’t have much of a road race pedigree. Edwards has wins on a variety of tracks in 2014 and could surprise Sunday.
For the final time in 2014, Jimmie Johnson is 10/1. The No. 48 has four finishes of fifth or better but no wins.
While it’s a surprise to see Johnson and double digits, the real stunners are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. Each are 60/1, by far their highest numbers of the year. None of the three have distinguished themselves on road courses, but it still strange to see three Chase contenders so low in the standings.
Will a wild car win and mess with the Chase standings? Will a familiar face end postseason dreams? Here’s how your favorite driver stacks up. Enjoy Sunday’s race.